Watching the evolution of a new group is fascinating. The Third Kind emerged some months back, a collaboration with Jordan Garno (Serotonic, Infinite Groove Orchestra), Bryan Lewis (Serotonic, Acme Jazz Garage) and Adam Volpe (Infinite Groove Orchestra). When I first saw them in September at Ella’s American Folk Art Cafe, I caught two really enjoyable sets, with Kelly-Ann Garno sitting in on vocals for a few tunes.
Fast forward to Friday, November 27th, again at Ella’s. Lewis had a previous engagement, so Alfred Sheppard stepped in, as he has before with Serotonic. And clearly Kelly-Ann is now a full-fledged member of the group, singing more than half of the tunes during two great sets.
Three notes into the first song from Sheppard, I knew — and was delighted by — what was coming: Herbie Hancock’s reworking of “Watermelon Man” from Headhunters. The trio nailed it. Sheppard’s keyboards were deep and funky with the perfect cadence for this song, and he was handling the bass line. Jordan played a beautiful subtle solo on Stratocaster.
I couldn’t quite place the intro to the next tune. As it evolved, there were little hints and teases, very brief, of “Hey Jude,” but it would disappear as quickly as it had appeared. Slowly, beautifully, the tune revealed itself, until finally they got to the head near the end. Perfect.
They followed that with a Serotonic tune written by Jordan titled “Molly Jane.” It was a lovely reading of the song. Then Kelly-Ann stepped on stage and began with the Hiatus Kaiyote tune “Nakamarra.
As the set progressed, it became apparent that she is much more at ease now on stage and in better voice than I have heard her before. She is now a working member of this band. A brilliant adaption of “Crazy” emerged next, Kelly-Ann belting the chorus. At some point, Sheppard and Volpe got locked in an almost-doubletime duel, Sheppard all over the keyboards and Volpe channeling Art Taylor (and he hasn’t heard Art Taylor! Yet.). Absolutely superb.
Next was a song new to their repertoire: Billy Preston’s “Nothing from Nothing.” That was fun. Sheppard funkified this one up on clavinet. Time for set break.
The boys are huge fans of Snarky Puppy, as am I, and they launched set two with “Flood.” It sounded great. Kelly-Ann then joined them again for the rest of the set. First up was “Gone Under,” a really funky piece that began almost laid back and then blasted out. Jordan had a wicked wah-wah solo in there.
Next was a very bluesy take on “Ophelia,” and then “Valerie,” which many groups enjoy covering. The Sertonic tune “Sunday Morning” followed. Meanwhile, our table was requesting/demanding the Bob Marley tune they had debuted at Harvest Fest, and we got it! This was a beautiful version of “Is This Love?” — lovingly rendered.
Kelly-Ann stepped down, and I thought they were finished. Fortunately, they were not. They blistered Snarky Puppy’s “Lingus.” The original features Corey Henry, whose band Serotonic opened for several weeks back. Jordan was playing the bass line on guitar, freeing up Sheppard to dance all over the keyboards. He was simply superb, and Volpe was a monster.
This band is evolving as we speak, but you should check them out next time they play. Jordan’s subtle Strat work was perfect all evening, including some whammy bar action. Kelly-Ann has settled in nicely. Volpe continues to delight, and Sheppard was huge.
Watch this space.
Kudos to house sound man Robbie Ackles for clear, crisp sound!
[SET ONE: Watermelon Man, Hey Jude, Molly Jane, Nakamarra*, Crazy*, Nothing from Nothing*; SET TWO: Flood, Gone Under*, Ophelia*, Valerie*, Sunday Morning*, Is This Love?*, Lingus]
*Kelly-Ann Garno, vocals